Green Biz Trend: Focus on Suppliers


When corporations say they are going “carbon neutral,” they often focus first on cutting energy consumption within their own office buildings or data centers — a positive step, but one that often doesn’t look at the more far-reaching effect of their supply chains. So it’s a promising step that a group of big daddy firms like Procter & Gamble (PG), Unilever (UN), Tesco , Nestlé, Imperial Tobacco Group (ITY) and Cadbury Schweppes (CSG) have launched an initiative today to press their suppliers for more information on their carbon emissions. The Wall Street Journal details the group that calls itself the Supply Chain Leadership Coalition and was created in partnership with the non-profit Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which tracks data on carbon footprints.

The move is preemptive of future legislation that could eventually deliver similar carbon transparency, and is a growing trend for businesses that are taking a deeper dive into going green. Last month Wal-Mart (WMT) took a similar step and announced a partnership with the CDP to measure the amount of energy used to make and distribute its products. Wal-Mart plans to focus on energy usage in seven “ordinary products that people commonly use” – DVDs, toothpaste, soap, milk, beer, vacuum cleaners and soda.

Last month, Dell (DELL) said it was “going carbon neutral” and (albeit briefly) mentioned that it would “continue to require suppliers to account for and report the emissions impacts of their operations. The first step in a long-term goal of helping suppliers reduce emissions.” Not quite a firm stance, but supply-chain progress nonetheless.

With more transparency for the carbon footprint of individual goods, companies could eventually market individual items with low carbon footprints.

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